Escudero targets President's other lump sum funds
MANILA (UPDATED) - Senate Finance Committee chair Francis Escudero on Monday said he is going to push for the itemization of the President's other lump sum funds in the 2014 national budget.
"Sa parte ng Kamara, wala naman silang binago sa budget maliban sa PDAF. Wala halos binago sa Senado. Marami babaguhin, malaki pagkakaiba ang bersyon ng Kamara at House," he said.
Escudero has asked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to make some submissions regarding the special purpose funds of the President.
"We want to minimize lump sums," he said. "Ang maiiwang lump sums, lalagyan ng special provisions para halos line item para pag ang listahan magawa by January, we will consider it as line item expenditure of the budget," he said.
"For example, ang contingency fund, doon china-charge sa travel ng Presidente, kakaibang expenditures. We asked for a list of how they spend. Sabi ko, kung travel, bigay na ang list, lagay natin sa (Office of the President). Augment natin ang travel [budget] ng OP para mas klaro at maliwanag ang budget," he said.
Escudero wants the use of savings reported to the appropriations and finance committees of the House and Senate.
He also wants the Commission on Audit furnished with documents on releases.
Escudero believes some lump sums can be itemized.
"Calamity fund, 'di kaya. Contingency, yes. Ang School building fund, sabi ni [DBM Secretary Butch] Abad, 'di kailangan kasi may school building program for 43,000 classrooms. Sapat na iyun, baka alisin at ilipat sa insurance? Pangatlo, allocation to LGUs, sinusunod, malamang di galawin. (Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund) sinusuyod namin dahil declared savings sa MPBF P22 billion projected ng 2013. Baka ganun din sa 2014, meron tayong ganung kalaking fiscal space."
He said MPBF savings may be tapped for the rehabilitation efforts for those affected by disasters in Cebu, Bohol, Zamboanga, as well as those devastated by typhoon Santi.
Special Purpose funds (SPF) are:
Budgetary support to government corporations - P45.7B
Allocation to LGUs - P19.7B
Calamity fund - P7.5B
Contingent fund - P1B
DEPED school building program - P1B
E-government fund - P2.479B
International commitments fund - P4.8B
Miscellaneous personnel benefits fund - 80.7B
Pension and gratuity fund - P120.5B
Feasibility studies fund - P400M
Other lump sums criticized are:
P12 billion - Department of Agriculture (Farm-to-market road)
P44.63 billion - Department of Education (various items for school buildings)
P13.30 billion - Department of Health (Health Facilities Enhancement Program)
P5.10 billion – Department of Agriculture (Irrigation fund)
P16.124 billion - support to foreign-assisted projects
P1 billion - general fund adjustments
Support for infra projects and social programs - P56.349B
AFP modernization program - P10.349B
Debt management program - 10.894B
Risk management program - P30B
People's survival fund - P500M
Interest payments for debt service - P 352.7B
Net lending - P24.9B
Internal Revenue Allotment - P341.5B
Employees' retirement and life insurance premiums - P28.9B
Special accounts in the general fund - P21.1B
Tax expenditures - P26.9B
These, however, were retained by the House of representatives in the budget bill it approved and transmitted to the Senate.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad said he had no problems with itemizing.
"No problem with us, as far as practicable. But we will try to disaggregate the SPFs to the greatest extent possible," he said.
"But the hardest to itemize are those that fund unpredictable events, like calamity and contingency funds. Others, we can provide general categories and sub-categories of expenditure items," Abad added.
Escudero hopes to have a vote by the Senate to approve the budget on 2nd reading by November 29 at the latest, with 3rd reading in first week of December so it can be signed into law by the President before the year ends.